Feeling crabby lately? Or simply worn out? Perhaps the solution is better sleep.
Think about all the factors that can interfere with a good night’s sleep — from pressure at work and family responsibilities to unexpected challenges, such as layoffs, relationship issues or illnesses. It’s no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive.
Although you might not be able to control all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep. Start with these simple sleep tips. No. 1: Stick to a sleep schedule
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night. No. 2: Pay attention to what you eat and drink
Don’t go to bed either hungry or stuffed. Your discomfort might keep you up. Also limit how much you drink before bed, to prevent disruptive middle-of-the-night trips to the toilet. No. 3: Create a bedtime ritual
Do the same things each night to tell your body it’s time to wind down.
Be wary of using the TV or other electronic devices as part of your bedtime ritual. Some research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep. No. 4: Get comfortable
Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs. No. 5: Limit daytime naps
Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep — especially if you’re struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. If you choose to nap during the day, limit yourself to about 10 to 30 minutes and make it during the midafternoon. No. 6: Include physical activity in your daily routine Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster and to enjoy deeper sleep. Timing is important, though. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you might be too energized to fall asleep. If this seems to be an issue for you, exercise earlier in the day. No. 7: Manage stress
When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep is likely to suffer. Before bed, jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.
Do you find yourself unable to sleep or waking up night after night? Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well. When you wake up or can’t get to sleep, take note of what seems to be the recurring theme. That will help you figure out what you need to do to get your stress and anger under control during the day.
If you can’t stop yourself from worrying, especially about things outside your control, you need to learn how to manage your thoughts. For example, you can learn to evaluate your worries to see if they’re truly realistic and replace irrational fears with more productive thoughts. Even counting sheep is more productive than worrying at bedtime. If the stress of managing work, family, or school is keeping you awake, you may need help with stress management. By learning how to manage your time effectively, handle stress in a productive way, and maintain a calm, positive outlook, you’ll be able to sleep better at night. Relaxation techniques for better sleep
Relaxation is beneficial for everyone, but especially for those struggling with sleep. Practicing relaxation techniques before bed is a great way to wind down, calm the mind, and prepare for sleep. Some simple relaxation techniques include: -Deep breathing. Close your eyes, and try taking deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last. -Progressive muscle relaxation. Starting with your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up from your feet to the top of your head. -Visualizing a peaceful, restful place. Close your eyes and imagine a place or activity that is calming and peaceful for you. Concentrate on how relaxed this place or activity makes you feel.
Life expectancy is rising steadily every year, with women living to an average age of 82.8 years and men 78.8 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Set your expectations higher with our guide to holding back the year. Get laughing- A good laugh is like a mini-workout – 100 to 200 laughs are equivalent to ten minutes of jogging or rowing, says US cardiologist, Dr William Fry. Research also shows that it lowers levels of stress hormones, and heightens the activity of the body’s natural defensive killer cells and antibodies. Sleep more- Sleeping more than eight hours a night may reduce your life expectancy. A study in the Archives of General Psychiatry, US, found that people who get only six to seven hours sleep a night live longer. People who sleep eight hours or more, or less than four hours, a night were shown to have a significantly higher death rate. Walk, run, jump- Fit women have a 40 per cent less chance of developing coronary heart disease than those who don’t exercise regularly, says Dr Ken Cooper of the Cooper Institute of Aerobic Research, US. He also found that people in the lower 20 per cent of fitness were three times more likely to die prematurely than the fittest group. Have sex- Couples with a healthy sex life can look up to seven years younger than those who don’t, according to a study by Dr David Weeks at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. This is because sex reduces stress, leads to greater contentment and better sleep. Never smoke again- The earlier you give up the better. Because the damage caused by smoking is cumulative, the longer a person smokes the greater the risk of developing a smoking-related disease. Enjoy chocolate- Research from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who eat a moderate amount of chocolate live longer than those who eat sweets three or more times a week, and those who never touch sweets. Chocolate contains chemicals called phenols, which are thought to protect against heart disease and cancer. Don’t take work home- This can be a sign that you feel unable to cope, which can raise stress. According to research from Johns Hopkins University, in the US, stressed people are 20 times more likely to develop heart disease. Learn to relax- Try a relaxation technique such as yoga or meditation, both of which are proven to help alleviate stress. Relaxation reduces blood pressure and helps reduce stress-related conditions such as depression.
Snoring is a fairly common affliction, however, is a sleep disorder that can have serious medical and social consequences. The tips that follow may help you sleep more peacefully. -Sleep on your side: You’re more likely to snore if you’re lying on your back, and sleeping on your stomach is stressful on your neck. -Lose weight: Excess body weight, especially around the neck, puts pressure on the airway, causing it to partially collapse. -Avoid alcohol and drugs: Both alcohol and sleeping pills can depress your central nervous system and relax the muscles of your throat and jaw, making snoring more likely. These substances are also known to contribute to sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that has been linked with cardiovascular disease. -Get your allergies treated: Chronic respiratory allergies may cause snoring by forcing sufferers to breathe through their mouths while they sleep. Taking an antihistamine just before bedtime may help. -Buy a mouth guard: Your dentist or doctor may be able to prescribe an antisnoring mouth guard that holds the teeth together and keeps the lower jaw muscles from becoming too lax. -Stop smoking: Smoke damages the respiratory system. -Keep a regular schedule: Get plenty of sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. -Elevate your head: Sleeping with your head raised may take some of the pressure off of the airway, making breathing easier. Raise the head of the bed by putting blocks under the bed posts, or prop up your upper body (not just your head, which can actually inhibit breathing) with pillows. Video: Insomnia, sleep disorders
The brain uses sleep to wash away the waste toxins built up during a hard day’s thinking, researchers have shown.
The US team believe the “waste removal system” is one of the fundamental reasons for sleep.
Their study, in the journal Science, showed brain cells shrink during sleep to open up the gaps between neurons and allow fluid to wash the brain clean.
They also suggest that failing to clear away some toxic proteins may play a role in brain disorders.